Calling in the spin doctors

Yup, we've got a big problem so let's throw a commercial at it so people think something is being done.

Carolyn Grant

The people have had enough. They have demanded action, by golly, and the Canadian government is taking action. Fast, decisive action.

The issue? Treatment of veterans.

The action? $4 million worth of commercials.

That’s right. In response to the truly tragic deaths of five Canadian veterans by suicide thus far in 2014, the federal government — no wait, they insist on being called the Harper government, so that’s what we’ll call them — the Harper government has come up with commercials that proudly proclaim how much is being done to assist soldiers in the transition back to civilian life.

Yup, we’ve got a big problem so let’s throw a commercial at it so people think something is being done.

Surely you have seen the ads. The Harper government bought time during the hockey playoffs for maximum coverage, so as best inform the public of their heroic efforts on behalf of the real heroes.

Of course critics say that the Harper government leaves it to private agencies such as the Veterans Transition Network and Canada Command to do the real work and that far more funding needs to be provided for soldiers returning from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The funding needs to go to programs, critics say. Not commercials.

The Harper government has not helped itself with its own Minister for Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino. Fantino has a remarkable ability to come across as completely unfeeling towards veterans. As recently as last week, the wife of a soldier with PTSD tried to approach Fantino as he left the House of Commons. She wanted to talk about providing assistance for caregivers dealing with loved ones with PTSD. She has had trouble getting MPs or the Minister to return her phone calls so she decided to approach Minister Fantino in person.

And right there in front of the TV cameras, Fantino refused to speak to her.

Jenifer Migneault later told CBC News, “I’m offended. A man like that is supposed to be so proud of my husband’s service? C’mon, that’s a joke. … We’re the ones who live 24 hours a day with their heroes.”

Last year, Fantino ran afoul of Veteran groups when, attempting to meet with them to explain the closing of some Veterans Affairs office, he arrived more than an hour late to the meeting. And in fact he blamed the unrest among veterans on “fear-mongering” by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), one of the largest unions in the country which represents Veterans Affairs staffers affected by the closures. Oh, and he also got huffy when an elderly veteran had the audacity to shake a finger at him.

“This finger-pointing stuff doesn’t work very well with me,” he was quoted as saying.

So as much as the Harper government likes to tell us, through commercials paid for with our money, what a great job they are doing assisting veterans, they leave in place a Minister who can’t take a finger-shaking from an outraged vet. By the way, after the finger-shaking, Minister Fantino stormed out of the meeting, apparently outraged and insulted by the whole thing.

This is not to say the Harper government does nothing for veterans. There are programs that assist veterans, but five suicides just this year indicate that more needs to be done. Much more.

Five suicides in returning veterans is an outrage. It should not be happening. These people made it out of a situation in which they risked death. Surely, when they get home that risk shouldn’t be there.

More needs to be done. And I don’t mean more commercials telling us what a great job the Harper government is doing.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin

Just Posted

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Coroners’ inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni teen rescheduled for June 21

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

It’s hard out there for a billionaire

I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that while many, many people… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Most Read